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Keeping Tabs on IKEA

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Ready-to-assemble furniture retailer IKEA is known for a lot of things -- not the least of which is its uniquely functional, highly affordable home furnishings. IKEA has a strong reputation for cost control and product development -- and a seemingly endless supply of interesting press materials. Over the last eight weeks, here is a smattering of the news coming from the ever-expanding global retailer.

• A supply chain design change is in the works: IKEA is switching from wooden shipping pallets to cardboard. The furniture giant has designed a way to fold corrugated cardboard into a structure that is slimmer than a traditional wooden pallet, yet can support the 1,650 lbs. necessary to transport goods. IKEA says the change will save thousands of truck trips and cut transport bills by $193 million a year.

• The IKEA store in Essex, southeast England, hosted a sleepover for 100 Facebook fans in late November. Nearly 100,000 people signed up to a Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA.” There was a minimum age of 25 and strict dress codes imposed, but guests were treated to goodie bags, massages, manicures, movies -- even a bedtime story.

• Inter IKEA Holding Services, the intellectual property owners of the home-goods monolith, announced plans to build an entire neighborhood in Stratford, East London, just south of the Olympic Park. The new district, Strand East, is to include 1,200 homes. Still, a spokesperson makes it perfectly clear: This project is separate from the retail branch -- so don’t expect the apartments to come fully furnished with IKEA items.